Allotments

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - 19:27

It’s been a busy month up at Eves Hill Veg Co. Our four new trainees have started, hit the ground running and been absolutely wonderful to have around.

Tasha, Clint, Kat and Ollie all bring a range of background, experience and skills with them and so the project grows.

We’ve been busy finally getting the tomatoes in the ground and now have almost all the salads for summer planted.

The field has been prepped (thanks to Jeremy and Barry for their tractor work) and awaits planting, the new polytunnel is up and full of plants (thanks Broadland District Council) and plans are emerging for our compost toilet.

Spring might have sprung around us, but the poor and mostly cold weather has set us back somewhat with the growth of our salads, and we are clinging on to small harvests at the moment watching leaves grow slowly.

 

Onion planting at Eves Hill Veg Co. Photo: supplied

 

Izzy our apprentice is growing from strength to strength, supporting the trainees and volunteers with the weekly tasks on the volunteer Wednesdays and supporting Tom, who has been bringing a range of groups and visitors to the farm, as well as getting stuck in with the general planning, running, harvesting and site care.

Over recent weeks we’ve welcomed the team from Stepping Stones, a project in Norwich for adults with learning difficulties, who brought a group of brilliant gardeners with plenty of experience from their own allotment, and wonderful cake for break time.

We also welcomed a group from YMCA in Norwich and Great Yarmouth, all of whom had been involved in a gardening competition within their residences. It was a pleasure to host them and we thank them for their help in digging the trench for our polytunnel.

Other visitors this month included 20 students from UEA studying international development studies. They came to Eves Hill Veg Co to learn more about sustainable food production, acting local and how this links with national and international food movements of solidarity, support, research and campaigning.

We’ve also got news coming up about a new programme we will be running from July with Norfolk Community College working with anyone who has been out of work for 12 months or more. This will enable us to run gardening clubs and courses at the site in Booton and at other community gardens nearby. More to follow.

  • Our next open day will be Saturday 26 May. We’d love some help with the preparing and planting in our field (time to put the sweetcorn and courgettes in the ground) and helping us stay on top of the weeding. We’ll be there from 10 am – 2 pm, there will be family-friendly tasks from 10.30 am – 12 noon, and at 12 noon there will be a tour and talk about the site and our work. Bring lunch if you’d like to; we provide tea and flapjacks.
  • Eves Hill Veg Co will be at the Reepham Food Festival on Sunday 27 May. We’ll have information about what we do and plants for sale – expect herbs, tomatoes and some ornamentals.
  • Timber frame roundhouse course – Owen is running a course at Eves Hill Veg Co in sustainable building techniques (and helping us build a shelter, too). The course runs over two weekends in June.
  • Veg bags – these start again end of June when the abundance returns. If you want to be added to our weekly e-list or text list, let us know.
  • Volunteer Wednesdays – these are from 10.30 am – 4 pm every Wednesday and are open to everyone; there are buses from and to Norwich (we pick you up in Reepham). Beginners are welcome; you don’t have to know anything about plants or gardening, just fancy coming along and lending a hand. Contact us for more details.

 

Hannah Claxton
Eves Hill Veg Co
07876 354363
info@eveshillvegco.com

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 20:18

Spring is on its way and now is the time that gardeners are preparing their vegetable beds for the summer.

For those of us who like their fruit and vegetables straight from the garden, but don’t have room at home, why not have an allotment?

Reepham is fortunate in having a range of full and half-size plots spread across three sites.

Currently we have vacancies and no waiting list. All plots have been previously cultivated and some include sheds.

  • If you are interested in taking on a plot, contact the Town Clerk on 01603 873355 for further information.

 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - 19:48

The first seeds of the year – tomatoes – have now been sown at Eves Hill Veg Co, the community market garden near Reepham, which heads into its third year at Eves Hill Farm, Booton.

Through the dark days of winter, through wind, snow, sleet and cold, our mid-week volunteer days have proved that once you have a fork or spade in your hand, the winter can disappear for an hour or two.

We have been busy increasing the size of our salad area as we are hoping to grow 50% more mixed leaves next year. Last year we achieved 380 kg of salad – can we hit the half tonne mark in 2018?

Our open day in January saw 24 visitors plus six children and, despite the terrible weather, we had a wonderful gang working together on the new salad area (pictured). Best of all was the fertility of conversation and cross-pollination of ideas as new people met with common interests.

Planning for the site continues; we have visited projects in Devon, Dorset, Shropshire and Worcestershire under the Bright Ideas programme, looking at different models of production and people work.

This year we will be experimenting with a small, intensive garden with fast-growing crops to see if we can increase our yields while getting smaller instead of bigger.

We are also waiting on Broadland District Council (with fingers crossed) to see if they will help us purchase a new poly tunnel.

Our small tunnel didn’t make it through the winter, but a second, larger tunnel will provide us with a decent propagation area, a larger growing space (more tomatoes) and a place to have lunch out of the wind and rain.

Training

We also attended a training day provided by Land Workers Alliance on the current and possible political outcomes for small-scale and family farmers in the Brexit negotiations.

This year we are seeking three trainees to join our team and learn about productive market gardening in a community context. This is a voluntary placement that runs from April-October and is a supported training programme.

100 Club fundraising

Over the next six weeks we continue the hunt for our 100 Club members. Thanks to all of you who have already signed up to support our fundraising for an apprenticeship position this year.

For £5 a month over a year you will be entered into a quarterly prize draw to win cash – supporting a young person into their first job in agriculture while supporting Eves Hill Veg Co to grow and develop.

You can also pay a one-off contribution of £60 and we are also suggesting that work places or friends could create a syndicate entry.

The apprenticeship role will be from April-October and, if all goes well, for three days a week.

Veg bags

Our veg bags will return from the end of June until Christmas, but that we should have ad hoc vegetables available from around April.

If you are interested in being added to our weekly veg list (we send an order request on a Tuesday and harvest on a Thursday), do let us know.

We have pick-up points at Eves Hill Farm in Booton, as well as in Cawston, Aylsham and Erpingham. We are also potentially looking to supply one or two more restaurants with mixed salad this year. Any ideas for the Reepham/Aylsham area welcome.

Volunteer days

From March, our volunteer days will return to Wednesdays from 10.30 am – 4 pm. Bring a packed lunch; tea and biscuits provided.

Hannah Claxton
hannahclaxton@googlemail.com
07876 354363

Monday, December 11, 2017 - 20:38

Here at Eves Hill Veg Co we have come to the end of our second growing season at Eves Hill Farm. We’re still harvesting away (just) in rain, sleet and snow, but really feeling that we have harvested the fruits of all our labours and are ready for a Christmas break.

We’ve just completed our annual Top of the Crops report, with our mixed leaf salad coming up tops again – this year we sold more than £4,000 of it.

Mixed salad also topped our income per area of beds with £17.47 made for every square metre of salad we grew. This was closely followed by our amazing cucumber harvest, which came in at £17.33 per square metre. The total weight of our harvests was more than 2.6 tonnes.

These results were due in no small part to the larger polytunnel our volunteers helped put up in January and the ongoing support of our wonderful volunteer team.

Our target this year was to grow and sell £11,000 of produce and this week we passed the mark. We haven’t quite finished our volunteer log, but we do know that we received more than 2,000 volunteer hours in the first nine months of this year – a lot of flapjacks!

Our winter project is to review, evaluate, plan and strategise. We now have two advisors on board as part of the Bright Ideas programme and we’re hoping their support and ideas will help us develop our social enterprise model in 2018.

Meanwhile, Tom has joined the team part time for six months to help us develop our volunteer programme and opportunities for developing participation programmes at the site and beyond.

We are also launching a 100 Club to fund our Future Farmer Apprenticeship for 2018 (or the Growing a Grower Apprenticeship). Details will be forthcoming (we’re waiting for new bank account details), but with the help of Andrew Hadley we are hoping to raise funds in what we’re calling “old school crowdfunding”, which means everyone pops a little bit in the pot, but there will be cash prizes to be won.

This will enable us to create a first job in agriculture for a young person, grow a grower of the future and enable us to achieve even more at the garden.

If you think you can support us to spread the word please let Andrew, Tom or I know. And if you are looking for a Christmas present for someone, we’ll happily share the details now.

Our next open day will be the last weekend of January (more details in the New Year. We are also hoping to redesign our open days with workshops next year.

Our last veg bag this year is Thursday 14 December. Veg will resume in an ad hoc way in the spring and then back to veg bags in June/July.

Our last volunteer day this year is Wednesday 13 December, restarting Tuesday 9 January. Volunteer days will be on Tuesdays in January and February, then back to Wednesdays from March.

We will again be running our trainee programme in 2018. This is a 1½-days-a-week voluntary programmes that runs from April–October, covering all aspects of market gardening and community growing. Details to follow in January. This year we took on three trainees and we’d like to do that again.

Thanks again to all of you who have supported our project this year: given up your time, bought our produce, watered our plants, shut our polytunnel doors, leant your advice, made cake, enthused and rallied us on. If it takes a family to bring up a child, it certainly takes a community to support a farm.

Hannah Claxton 07876 354363 or email hannahclaxton@googlemail.com

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 08:28

In October, the big season shift has been played out by taking out all the tomatoes and cucumbers and filling the polytunnels with salads for mid-winter – watercress, wild rocket, salad rocket, winter purslane, endive, Asian greens, lettuces, sorrel and herbs.

Meanwhile, we continue to harvest the autumn salad mix – curly kale, cavolo nero, leeks, celeriac, beetroot, fennel, chard, spinach.

The squash is now cured (skin hardened by leaving in the polytunnel to dry out) and in storage, the garlic is still going strong from the store and the chillies are all going to Andy at the builders merchants in Aylsham to be made into chilli sauce.

Eves Hill Veg Co was set up in April 2016 to provide a space for people to learn about organic vegetable growing, working together on the land to provide fresh local produce of the highest quality.

One of the big things about our second growing season has been the traineeship programme.

This year Izzy, Ric and Frances took on the challenge of the voluntary programme for 1½ days a week from April to October, each with different aims and ambitions for learning.

Last Wednesday was the last day of their eight-month traineeship and it has been such a wonderful journey to be on with them all.

Frances has spent the summer working on a wildflower farm and is now taking her RHS Level 2 horticulture qualification at Easton & Otley College.

Ric is moving away from his work as a composer as his passion for land-based work grows, and is off to Spain to live in an eco-community.

Izzy has been sharing her newly developed gardening and people skills at The Grange, near Swaffham, a project for refugee groups to take respite in beautiful surroundings.

She said: “It has been a privilege to work outside every week amongst nature and amazing people.

“This traineeship has taught me invaluable growing and gardening skills, and I now know that I can successfully propagate, look after and harvest vegetables. I have also learnt how to take responsibilities and to have more confidence in myself.

“There is a rich biodiversity at the farm and it has been incredible to see it throughout different seasons.

“I have met a network of wonderful people, both volunteers and customers, who are full of knowledge and support and will hopefully be people I know for a long time.

“One experience that will stick with me is joining in with the hectic harvests – and to literally put food on people’s plates.

“The best thing, however, was getting to eating yummy organic vegetables every week.  I can’t wait to continue my time beyond this traineeship.”

Eves Hill Veg Co is located 1 mile southeast of Reepham on Norwich Road. Look out for the big black barns and entrance to Eves Hill Farm on the left, after the “hidden dip” signs.

Veg bags are available weekly to collect from the farm any time from Thursday at 3 pm. They can also can be collected from Erpingham after 5.30 pm, from Bread Source in Aylsham on Fridays after 10 am and Cawston on Fridays after 10.30 am.

Small veg bags are £6 and large veg bags are £10. Every week they contain a range of seasonal produce, harvested to order.

Volunteer days are every Wednesday from 10 am – 4 pm. No experience necessary. Bring lunch. Stay for an hour or two or join us for the whole day.

Hannah Claxton 07876 354363 or email

Photos: (top) Mid-winter salads in the polytunnels; (bottom): Former Eves Hill Veg Co trainees Ric and Izzy

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 13:14

Plants have a wonderful way of telling us that the seasons are shifting.

As the light and temperatures decline, our cucumbers, sweetcorn and beans are coming to an end, while the leeks, celeriac and kale are starting to look wonderful and gearing up for their first harvest.

Eves Hill Veg Co brought in the first of the winter squash in last week: Uchiki Kuri, a wonderful Japanese orange squash that is now curing in our polytunnel (hardening the skin for keeping quality).

We hope to bring the rest of our squash in on Saturday 30 September at our open day/community day.

Even the salads signal season change, with chard and parsley making way for Asian greens, such as mizuna, mibuna, “green in snow”, namenia, giant red mustard and, soon, rocket and watercress.

We’re feeling even more inspired by these wonderful subtle and spicy flavours as a copy of Joy Larkcom’s memoir Vegetating arrived with us last month, outlining her adventures in bringing new crops back to the UK from all over the world in the late 1970s with her family in tow.

Without her we’d be eating iceberg lettuce and turnips. As passionate vegetable growers, her legacy feeds our brains, hands and stomachs.

Speaking of salads, we are grateful to one of our new customers, who last week sent us this response to her first veg bag: “You have performed a miracle; my two-year-old has been eating salad all week and asking for more!”

We now have a pickup point for the veg bags in Cawston, as well as Booton, Aylsham and Erpingham. Large veg bags are £10 and small veg bags are £6, harvested to order every Thursday.

We are also proud to announce that we have just been awarded a small National Lottery Awards For All grant to support our work.

The money will mean we can focus on developing our business model and active research. This will include our production model and looking at where we will be taking our social outcomes side of our work.

This Saturday (30 Saturday) is our monthly open day when from 10 am – 2 pm we will be available to show you round and/or rope you into helping with the squash harvest and weeding the leeks.

Stop by and say hello, and send your friends along who are interested to know more about the veg bags or volunteering.

From 2–4 pm we will be welcoming the No Fear Gardening group from Norwich, which actively supports new and old gardeners to visit gardens and learn together.

We will be doing more of an in-depth gardeners’ tour (donation £2.50), with information about techniques that we use, such as no-dig and cut-and-come again salad, alongside the principles of being a community enterprise. RSVP by email.

Hannah Claxton 07876 354363 or email

  • Eves Hill Veg Co is located 1 mile south of Reepham on the Norwich Road. Look out for the big black barns and entrance to Eves Hill Farm, right by the “hidden dip” signs. Volunteer days are every Wednesday 10 am – 4 pm. No experience necessary. Bring lunch. Stay for an hour or two or join us for the whole day.

 

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 20:45

As all fears of frost fade and we begin summer proper, windowsills and cold frames can finally be emptied of, and the allotment filled with, all those seedlings and cuttings.

If the dry weather continues, it’s vital to not just puddle them in, but also to keep them watered during the first weeks while they get their roots down.

Both the bigger allotment sites in Reepham have had trouble with potato blight, which also affects tomatoes, so I don’t grow mine outside directly in the ground.

Growing them in a greenhouse helps protect them from blight as well as giving them the warmth they love, but since I don’t have a greenhouse on my half-plot, I grow mine at home in pots in a sunny corner, instead.

Home-grown tomatoes, straight from the vine, are sweeter than any you’ll find in the shops.

I understand that Stoney Lane has been having problems with dogs doing their business on allotment site.

If the gate is left open, dogs being walked on Marriott’s Way can run through before their owners can stop them, stressing the chickens and leaving mess behind them. If everyone remembers to keep the gate shut, hopefully the problem should cease.

It’s not too late to sow courgettes and cucumbers for a late summer crop since they look for warmth rather than increasing daylight to produce flowers and fruits.

Succession sowing of peas, French beans, beetroot and salad ensures a continuous harvest rather than a glut, but do water the soil before sowing to give your crops the best possible start.

Meanwhile, as the asparagus season ends in June, the broad bean season has just begun, herbs are producing fragrant foliage, and roses and other cutting flowers are blooming.

And as I pick sun-ripened strawberries, I always share any over-ripe or slug-nibbled fruit with some pretty excited hens.

Sarah Oates

  • To ask about renting an allotment, contact: Jo Boxall, Town Clerk, Reepham Town Hall, Church Street, Reepham, Norfolk NR10 4JW. Tel: 01603 873355 or email. For information on joining RALGA, email or write via the allotment postbox.

 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 17:36

I might like to think of May as the start of summer, but I’ve also seen May bank holidays ruined by gales and heavy rain, and even a late cold snap.

So it’s worth ensuring broad bean plants are supported in case of strong winds and that potatoes are earthed up to protect new shoots from frost damage.

As summer approaches and the weather warms up, the less hardy seedlings can be planted out, including sweet peas and climbing beans.

I’m recycling some sycamore poles to make wigwams this year, which will hopefully be sturdy enough to withstand both the weight of the growing plants and the Norfolk winds.

I’ll also be making sure the soil is warmed through before I plant out. No seedling likes to be plunged into cold soil and runner beans in particular sulk horribly if you do so.

May is also the month of the Chelsea Flower Show, where vegetable gardens have had a bit of a renaissance.

A few years ago, one featured a raised strawberry bed that used gravel instead of straw as the mulch. As well as protecting them from slugs and rot, the gravel reflected the heat and helped the berries to ripen. I may give the idea a try.

There are a few empty plots at the allotments this year, so if you fancy giving allotment gardening a go, have a word with the town clerk, Jo Boxall.

Most plots have raspberry canes and whoever takes over the empty plot next to mine will inherit some magnificent artichoke plants, too.

Fellow allotmenteers often have extra seedlings to help you get started, and the annual cost of a half plot is less than £1 a week, with exercise, fresh air and sunshine included for free.

Sarah Oates

  • To ask about renting an allotment, contact: Jo Boxall, Town Clerk 01603 873355 or email
  • For information on joining RALGA, email or write via the allotment post box.